Bulldogs sign top prospect Roberts from Owen Sound
The Hamilton Bulldogs have signed top prospect Connor Roberts. The 16-year-old from Owen Sound was the club’s first-round selection, third overall, at this year’s Ontario Hockey League draft.
President and general manager Steve Staios said the Bulldogs are happy to have him on board — even if the deal was a bit of a formality.
He also lauded the sixfoot-three, 209-pound centre’s character.
“Getting past the player and the physical specimen he is at such a young age,” Roberts is a really good person who’s passionate about playing hockey, he said. “When you look at philosophically what we’re trying to create here, he really fits that mould.”
Staios wouldn’t predict how Roberts will fit into Hamilton’s lineup this season. It’s too early to know. The club understands how development works for young players and “will err on the side of patience,” he said — at least until he starts to build confidence. “And we won’t get ourselves concerned with point totals and things like that.” That said, if Roberts comes to training camp and “blows our doors off and we sense that he’s ready to be an impactful player immediately, he’ll earn that position,” Staios added.
Roberts notched 39 points in 28 games last season as captain of the minor midget Grey-Bruce Highlanders.
He couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday — he was on a flight to Calgary, where he’s taking part in Hockey Canada’s under-17 development camp.
In addition to Roberts, the Bulldogs also signed goaltender Cole Ceci late last week. The Orleans native, a 10th-round pick in 2014, spent last season with the club’s Jr. A affiliate Ancaster Avalanche.
“This gives us depth at the most important position,” Staios said. He also noted the 18-year-old — who will be battling returning puckstoppers Connor Hicks and Kaden Fulcher for a permanent spot on the roster — “performed too well for us not to bring in the mix.”
In 32 regular season games, Ceci posted a 2.57 GAA and .921 save percentage. He also appeared in 10 playoff matches for Ancaster, including an 85-save performance against the St. Catharines Falcons that coaches Troy Smith and Ron Wilson and scout Matt Turek were on hand to watch. NOTES: Four Bulldogs have made Central Scouting’s futures list for the 2017 NHL draft — goalie Kaden Fulcher and forwards Mackenzie Entwistle, Matthew Strome and Marian Studenic. The list consists of 290 North American and international draft-eligible prospects that NHL scouts will be watching in the upcoming season ... Bulldogs president and general manager Steve Staios said he expects to announce the club’s new radio broadcasting agreement within the next two weeks. Its previous deal with AM900 CHML expired in June.
Connor Roberts was Hamilton’s first-round selection, third overall, at the OHL draft.